(This post was originally published in December 2021 and updated in July 2023)
Until I decided to take a break from drinking I didn’t realise there was a whole genre of books referred to as ‘quit lit’ (quitting drinking literature). They include memoirs, how-to guides and self-help books.
I’ve listed my top six but there are many more. The common thread between my top six is that they shine a light on alcohol and the insidious nature of this addictive substance but they do so in a way that provides many a ‘a-ha!’ moment. Memoirs help me realise I’m not alone and those that include humour are particular faves.
Some of my favourites, and this is in no way an exhaustive list, include:
1. This Naked Mind
This Naked Mind, Annie Grace: This was the book that not only helped me to gain back control of my drinking, but it also led to me becoming a certified This Naked Mind coach. Reading this helped me to understand why it was becoming more difficult for me to moderate my drinking. Annie writes in a clear, easy-to-understand way about the science around alcohol and helped me to deconstruct my ingrained beliefs around drinking. This book was life changing!
2. Alcohol Explained
Alcohol Explained, William Porter: Like This Naked Mind, this book helps to deconstruct the way alcohol works in our bodies. It draws back the curtain on our alcohol-soaked society and helped me to understand why it is so easy for drinking to go from being a non-issue in your life to making you wonder what is wrong with you.
3. The Sober Diaries
The Sober Diaries, Clare Pooley: Funny, honest and relatable, Clare’s book is based on the blog she started when she quit drinking – Mummy Was a Secret Drinker. I related to Clare’s story on so many levels. She is middle-aged, has a successful career and is a busy mum, yet her drinking was getting out of control and she knew something had to change. It chronicles her first year of alcohol-free living (including a cancer diagnosis.
4. Mrs D is going without
Mrs D is going without, Lotta Dann: Lotta is a former journalist from New Zealand who, like Catherine Gray, started writing about her break-up with booze in an anonymous blog that morphed into this book. She’s down-to-earth, funny and frank. Loved it!
5. The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober
The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober, Catherine Gray: I love the title of this book as it sums up what going alcohol free means to me. I thought kicking booze to the curb would be a dreary punishment but instead it has delivered so many unexpected joys. Catherine shares her story or, as she refers to it, her ‘boozehound-to-sober journey’ as well as the joys of life alcohol-free. She also includes research and examines at the myths vs realities of alcohol use. I love her writing style (funny and frank) and her honesty.
6. High Sobriety
High Sobriety, Jill Stark: Jill Stark, a journalist who was born in Scotland but lives in Australia, intersperses her own story of taking a break from drinking with insights from experts. She also shares research around the topic of drinking and alcohol. I liked this book because she holds up a mirror to our attitudes about drinking and helped me to question my own ingrained beliefs. Jill’s follow-up book, Higher Society, launched in 2023 and is an update on her experience 10 years after she first took a break from drinking.